Get more out of your social media efforts
Use readily available analytics to fine tune your online offerings
By Heather Lockwood
So, you've been involved in social media for a while now. You have your Facebook and Twitter accounts set up; you check them regularly and respond to them. You have fans and people who retweet, but how can you be sure that your social media marketing efforts are paying off?
Social media is different from other forms of marketing in that there are concrete ways you can tell if it's actually working. You can try new things and learn from the results. You can get ideas from others and easily apply them to your strategy to see if you get lift. And you can try combinations of things to determine what media outlets are getting your business the best return.
With traditional advertising, you would place an ad in the local paper or do a radio spot…and wait. Even if you saw a response after advertising, it was hard to attribute that specifically to your advertising efforts. On the other hand, there are many tools right at your fingertips that can give you a snapshot at any given moment showing you whether your social media marketing efforts are paying off.
Fans, likes, views
The simplest measure of your social media success is to add up your sCRM—your social Customer Relationship Management. Different from traditional CRM, sCRM puts the customer in the conversation. It is not just a one-way conversation—the company to the customer. In social media, the customer has a voice and can comment to others about the company, as well as comment directly to the company.
You can measure your social media marketing success by adding up the number of Facebook fans, Twitter followers, YouTube views, etc. If you find that your numbers are going up over time, that is an indicator that you are reaching people. You may also find that one type of media works better than another for your particular business. This knowledge gives you the opportunity to really focus on the things that you see working.
For in-depth measurements for your Facebook page, Web sites or blogs, there are great online tools that you can use. With tools like Google Analytics and Webtrends, you can measure Web site use, mobile use and Facebook page trends. You can see how many page views you have, what content is viewed the most, how many people are finding you via mobile devices—and which ones. You can see click-throughs, bounce rates and the average time people are spending on your site. You can determine traffic sources and whether your visitors are new or returning.
All of this information can give you a clear picture of whether your strategies are attracting customers, and what things you might be able to maximize in order to get more. If you find that a specific page or type of content seems to hold people on your site longer, you may consider beefing up that page or adding more content similar to what is being viewed the most.
Once you have a good idea of your sCRM and you're using analytics to evaluate traffic at your different media outlets, you know what to focus on in terms of the things that will help you maximize your exposure. Now you can tweak your existing presence to get the most out of it.
If you want to step up the pace of that growth, Facebook ads can do a lot to increase the numbers of your fans as well as really target the audience you want to reach. The ads usually consist of a small picture and targeted content. You can identify your audience by age, location, interests, and key words. Viewers can "like" the ads to receive special promotions, information or offers. You can pay per click or per thousand impressions (views), and there are many ways they allow you to manage your budget, including bidding on a maximum cost per click or thousand impressions.
With Facebook ads, you can test different pictures and key words to see what works. You may want to change your ad every few weeks to reach a different audience for a different product line, demographic or location. If your ad is on target, you'll see an immediate lift. Once you see the numbers starting to taper off, it might be time for a new ad.
Peak engagement times
According to a study done by the social media marketing company Buddy Media, timing is an important factor in whether or not a Facebook post will be successfully received. The study was the topic of an article on Mashable.com, "How To: Improve Engagement on Your Brand's Facebook Page." The study itself contains much detailed information, but there was a clear message: The content you post and when you post it has an impact on your responses.
According to the study—based on data from 200 of Buddy Media's clients' Facebook pages over a 14-day period—most posts are published between 10 a.m. EST and 4 p.m. EST. But brands that posted outside of business hours (early in the day, after 5 p.m. EST or late at night) had a 20% higher engagement rate. This data makes sense when you consider that many people are working between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and are not on Facebook during the workday.
Posting all your updates during your workday may mean you are missing key opportunities to connect with your fans. Posting outside business hours means you are reaching your customers when they are most likely on Facebook.
In addition, there are key days of the week when people tend to spend more time on Facebook. According to the study, Thursday and Friday have 18% higher engagement rates than other days of the week. It is important to note that these numbers vary quite a bit by industry, with business and finance having engagement peaks on Wednesday and Thursday.
Taking these things into account could help you better hone your social media strategy. When does your site or page get the most traffic? What kinds of posts and content do your viewers "like" or what makes them stay on your site longer?
Consider your business and whom you are trying to reach. If you reach out where they are, when they are out there, in the way they want to be reached, you have a much better chance of maximizing your effectiveness in the social media space. It's a lot to take into account, but if you regularly analyze your sCRM and break those numbers down to reveal what is working, you have a much higher potential of growing your business, just by being in the right place at the right time with the right message.